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Georgian Heroine: Mary Wortley Montagu

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

The story of Mary Wortley Montagu is indeed worthy of a recap, and particularly so in the times we live in. I have seen her name mentioned fleetingly in the books about the Georgian kings, as well as Georgian make-up, but I was incredibly chuffed when her biography landed on my lap.

We don't often hear about women living their full lives back in the Georgian era. Mary's story definitely breaks the mould. Her determinate nature and sheer wilfulness made sure that her life was lived on her terms, as much as it was possible.

Unlike many other tales of great ladies of history, the story of this incredible woman takes us out of Great Britain. This chapter really reinforced my desire to travel again, as travels bring one not only new views to admire, but also an opportunity to glimpse a different viewpoint to one's own. And it was this hunt for adventure that led Mary to her legacy as the pioneer of vaccination.

It is difficult to imagine today the world in which vaccines either don't exist and/or are frowned upon. There is a minority today which claims that administering inoculation (engraftment, variolation, etc.) is directly against the will of God. However loud their voices are, they are still a minority. The system itself serves and protects those who are willing to protect themselves against an illness. This system has been thus for many years, with a great thanks to our lead heroine.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jo Willett's latest book. Mary's story is told in an engaging, snappy way, which puts the reader firmly in the seat next to her on this adventure that was Mary's life: the good, the bad and the inoculated. Link to the book here.


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